Country guides Africa
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Plug types in use are round pin attachment plugs or round pin plugs and receptacles with a male grounding pin.
The official language of Ivory Coast is French but more than 60 native dialects are spoken.
The official currency is the West African CFA franc (XOF), which is divided into 100 centimes and is linked to the euro at a fixed rate of exchange. Abidjan has many ATMs but they may not be reliable. Travellers should make sure they have enough cash for their trip, as ATMs are rare outside of the city. Credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and more established restaurants.
A service charge is usually added to hotel and restaurant bills, though a tip of 10 to 15 percent would be appreciated. Taxi drivers usually expect 10 percent.
There is a risk of yellow fever transmission and yellow fever vaccination is required for entry. Vaccination is recommended for typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, and meningococcal vaccine is recommended for travel between November and June. Travellers should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. Effective mosquito repellent is necessary, as visitors may be exposed to chikungunya, dengue fever and zika virus. All water should be sterilised before use, and milk, which is unpasteurised, should be boiled. Travellers should avoid dairy products and ensure meat is well cooked and eaten hot; fruit and vegetables should be cooked and peeled before consumption. Medical treatment in Abidjan is of reasonable standard, though private care is expensive and facilities outside the major towns are very limited. Medical insurance with provision for repatriation is essential.
The political situation in Ivory Coast is volatile and demonstrations can occur unexpectedly. Travellers should take care in public places and avoid crowds. Violent crime is on the increase, including armed break-ins, car jackings, muggings and hold-ups in restaurants. Evening rush hour on Abidjan's Charles de Gaulle Bridge is particularly dangerous. Visitors should be meticulous in respecting the numerous army and police roadblocks, as police and security forces can be excitable and undisciplined. Particular care should be taken in the north and west of the country, where there have been frequent clashes. Travellers should be aware of conmen and touts when arriving at Abidjan airport, and the bridges crossing the lagoon in Abidjan should be avoided by those on foot. Taxis, except for metered orange taxis in Abidjan, are risky and often not roadworthy. Buses are overcrowded and best avoided.
It's prohibited to take photographs near sensitive sites such as military or government buildings, and possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs is a serious offence that can lead to heavy fines and lengthy prison sentences. Religion strongly influences life in the country, so visitors should respect local religious customs at all times. Homosexuality is not illegal, but LGBT travellers should be discreet as there is no legal recognition for LGBT couples, there are no specific anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT individuals, and attitudes in Ivory Coast may be less tolerant.
Though business in the Ivory Coast is fairly formal and punctuality is a must, more casual cotton suits are acceptable attire on account of the heat. Business is often conducted in French, but translators are readily available; greeting and acknowledging each person present with a handshake is important. Business hours are usually from 7.30am to 12pm, and 2.30pm to 6pm on weekdays, and from 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.
Travellers to the Ivory Coast do not need to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 25 cigars or 250g of tobacco; one bottle of wine and one of spirits; 500ml eau de toilette and 250ml of perfume. Currency should be declared.
The country code for Ivory Coast is +225. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Travellers can purchase local prepaid SIM cards for unlocked phones; WiFi is available in hotels and restaurants in Abidjan, but may be harder to find in rural parts of the country.
Passport & Visa
All foreign passengers to the Ivory Coast must hold proof of arranged accommodation, return or onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter the Ivory Coast. Visitors will need to get an e-visa prior to arriving; the process is straightforward and is done completely online. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for six months beyound the period of intended stay. A visa is required.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and require a visa to enter the Ivory Coast.
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+225 20 2587 88 (police and other emergencies)
Embassies / consulates in other countries
Ivory Coast Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 797 0300.
Ivory Coast Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7201 9601 and +44 20 7235 6991.
Ivory Coast Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 (613) 236 9919.
Ivory Coast Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 6913/4.
Embassies / consulates in Ivory Coast
United States Embassy, Abidjan: +225 2249 4000 and +225 2249 4594.
British Embassy, Abidjan: +225 2244 2669.
Canadian Embassy, Abidjan (also responsible for Australia): +225 2030 0700.
South African Embassy, Abidjan: +225 2244 5963 and +225 2244 7534.